No joke: Weatherly earns NASCAR's highest honor
Brief Yet Prolific Career Lands 'Clown Prince of Racing' In Hall
Teams beat the weather to test at Chicagoland
Weather concerns forced NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams to cram two days of testing into a single day Tuesday at Chicagoland Speedway as they prepare for the upcoming Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup 's opening race next month. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 18 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The organizational test, which permits one team per organization to participate, was originally scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick , the 2014 series champion, recorded the top lap time during Tuesday's day-long test with the No. 4 Chevrolet circling the 1.5-mile track in 29.147 seconds (185 mph). Defending series champion Kyle Busch had the second best lap in No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at 29.24 seconds (184.6 mph) while Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford) and Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet) had the third and fourth quickest times, respectively. Fourteen teams took part in the test. Harvick completed 222 laps, most among those taking part in the test, while Busch logged 214 according to NASCAR timing and scoring data. "We haven't won here in a few years but I think the performance has been fine over the past two or three years," Harvick, winner of the first two Sprint Cup races hosted by the track," said Tuesday. "I'm looking forward to coming back; it's a fun race track just for the fact that you can move around and run all around the race track. That's really the hardest part about today, it's hard to gather a lot of … confirmed information (because) you have to get enough rubber from the bottom to the top of the track to see where everything actually is." Joey Logano finished sixth in last year's Chase opener at Chicago. It's a race that sets the tone for the 10-race playoff, the driver of the Team Penske No. 22 Ford said. "A lot on the line here and you always want to start off the Chase on a good note and have a lot of momentum leaving Chicago," Logano said. "So far so good. … "This is a great track; to me it almost acts like a small Fontana for us. You can run anywhere you want on the race track, its got a lot of speed and it's bumpy. Its got a ton of character." One more organizational test remains for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, scheduled for Oct. 18-19 at Homestead Miami Speedway. While Sprint Cup teams were testing at Chicagoland, several Camping World Truck Series teams were busy at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Monday and Tuesday. Kyle Busch Motorsports teammates William Byron, Christopher Bell and Cody Coughlin , along with Kaz Grala (GMS Racing) and Stewart Friesen (Halmar Racing) were on hand to test in preparation for the Truck Series' opening Chase race, the UNOH 175 (Sept. 24, 1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "This is one of my favorite race tracks," Byron, the series' points leader and winner of five races this season, said. "I won here in the K&N Series last year so think I have a lot of confidence here. "It's good to come back with a truck; it handles totally different but it's the same race track. I'm trying to use some of the things I learned last year and hopefully make that apply for when we come back in the Chase." The inaugural Chase in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series begins at New Hampshire and will feature a field of eight drivers competing for the 2016 championship.
NASCAR penalty report post-Bristol: Warnings issued to several teams
Five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams received written warnings Wednesday for pre-race inspection violations last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway . The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota team for defending series champ Kyle Busch will make its pit stall selection last for this weekend's event at Michigan International Speedway . The team sustained its fourth current warning for failing the laser inspection station (LIS) process twice in last Saturday's pre-race checks. Other teams failing twice in the pre-race LIS platform: -- Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (driver Denny Hamlin ) -- Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet ( Ryan Newman ) -- Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Toyota ( Martin Truex Jr .) The No. 22 Team Penske Ford for driver Joey Logano was issued a written warning for failing LIS twice in pre-qualifying inspections. In other penalty news Wednesday: -- NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to crew member Ryan Southall for a violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy. -- Two NASCAR XFINITY Series teams sustained written warnings for failing LIS twice in pre-race inspections at Bristol: The No. 3 Chevrolet driven by Ty Dillon and the No. 93 Chevrolet driven by David Starr .
The Rundown: Bristol driver grades
RELATED: Full race results " Driver standings " Chase Grid Breaking down the full field for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway : 1. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . This says it all about Harvick's second win at Bristol: In 112 Cup races at the track, only four winners started farther back in the field than Harvick's 24th ( Elliott Sadler , 38th, 2001; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., 30th, 2004; Kurt Busch , 27th, 2002; Dale Earnhardt, 26th, 1999). Grade: A++ 2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse overcame a pit-road speeding penalty to tie his career-best finish, which also came at Bristol (2014). In fact, half of Stenhouse's six career top-five finishes have come at Bristol. Grade: A+ 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . It was a day of eighths for Hamlin: His eighth top five of the season and his eighth pit-road speeding penalty. He also had to make an unscheduled stop for a loose wheel that put him two laps down. Nice recovery, but he absolutely has to stick a fork in those pit-road speeding penalties before the Chase begins. Grade: A- 4. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon just avoided the big wreck on Lap 373 to post his first top five since Talladega in May. Also important: Dillon moved up two spots in the Chase standings to 13th, passing Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott . Grade: A 5. Chris Buescher , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Huge day for Buescher, who gets his second career top five -- both in the past three races -- and moves into the top 30 in points for the first time this season. Grade: A+ 6. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Debris piercing the right front of his car couldn't stop Edwards from getting his 14th top 10 of the season, one fewer than he had all of 2015. Grade: A 7. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Hard to believe, but Johnson's finish was only his second top 10 in the past 10 races. Grade: A 8. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray's Chase radar is on max. He's 15th in the Chase standings after his fourth top 10 in the past six races. Grade: A 9. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger posts back-to-back top 10s for the second time this season, the first time he has had multiple back-to-back top-10 finishes in a season in his Sprint Cup career. Grade: A 10. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . We don't have the space to list all the issues Logano and the No. 22 had to overcome Sunday. This top 10 was hard earned and well deserved. Grade: A 11. Jeff Gordon , No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . In the 801st and possibly final start of his career, Gordon gets his best finish in his fourth race as Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s sub. Grade: B 12. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne jumped over Kyle Larson in the standings and picked up ground on Ryan Newman , who leads Bayne by 35 points for the last spot in the Chase with three races to go before the field is set. Grade: B 13. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . With Chris Buescher entering the top 30, Kahne went from 11 points behind 16th place in the Chase standings to 39 points back. Grade: B 14. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola posted his best finish of the season since finishing 13th in Week 4 at Phoenix. Grade: B 15. Chase Elliott , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Elliott's promising day took a hit when he was collected in the big wreck on Lap 373. On the flip side, he led 14 laps, his first laps led since Week 15 at Michigan. Grade: B 16. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . A miscommunication over the radio that resulted in an unscheduled green-flag pit stop didn't help matters. Grade: B- 17. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto posted the second-best finish of his young career despite being down three laps at one point because of a tire issue. His best finish? Sixth at Bristol in April. Grade: A 18. Brian Scott , No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Scott turned in his second-best finish of the season (12th at Fontana in Week 5). Grade: A 19. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Chevrolet, Circle Sport- Leavine Family Racing . McDowell finishes in the top 20 in consecutive races for the first time in his 201-race Cup career. Grade: A 20. Landon Cassill , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Cassill finished 22nd in April to tie his best finish at Bristol. Sunday, he topped that. Grade: A 21. David Ragan , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Ragan avoided disaster with a great evasive maneuver down low to avoid a spinning Kyle Busch on Lap 358. Grade: B 22. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick finished 22nd for the third time in the past four races. Her other finish in that stretch: 21st two weeks ago at Watkins Glen. Grade: C 23. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Toyota, Furniture Row Racing . Bad luck found Truex again. He was running third on Lap 358 when he was collected in a wreck caused by Kyle Bush's spin and the No. 78 suffered heavy damage. His average running position of 9.6 was fifth best. Grade: A- 24. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson had an eventful day, and that’s not code for a great day. A pit-road speeding penalty, cut oil line, three on-track incidents (neither his fault) and untimely tire rub totally erased the benefit of having a super-fast car. Grade: B- 25. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears has one top 10 in 28 starts at Bristol giving him the lowest top-10 percentage among active drivers with at least 15 Cup starts at the track. Grade: C 26. Regan Smith , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Smith brought out the third caution when he got into the wall on Lap 157; attrition enabled him to post a top-30 finish. Grade: C- 27. Reed Sorenson , No. 55 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Sorenson tied Regan Smith for the fewest green-flag passes with six. Grade: C- 28. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Pit-road penalties and tire problems carried (dropped?) the day. Still, Newman is 16th in the Chase standings with a 35-point cushion over Trevor Bayne with three races to go. Grade: D 29. Jeffrey Earnhardt , No. 32, Go Fas Racing Ford. Earnhardt improved three spots from his debut at Bristol in April. Grade: C- 30. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . We'll let Tony sum up his final start at Bristol: "We had a wheel that was loose, and that messed our whole day up." Perhaps, but owner Tony got a win and was part of a double burnout with winner Kevin Harvick . Grade: D 31. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . A broken brake rotor put Bowyer into the wall on Lap 416. Grade D 32. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard was running in the top 10 when he got caught up in the aftermath of Kurt Busch 's spin and his car sustained a punctured radiator when he ran into Chase Elliott . That's Bristol. Grade: C- 33. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski was running third when Kurt Busch got loose in front of him, turned and Keselowski hit him hard. Keselowski had run among the leaders until the accident on Lap 373. Grade: C 34. Cole Whitt , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The No. 98 spent time in the garage, and Whitt finished 58 laps off the pace. Grade: D 35. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney was caught up in the Kurt Busch wreck. As cars checked up, Blaney slammed into Matt Kenseth , who had been turned by Chase Elliott . Blaney returned to the track, but when the day ended he had little to show for a top-five starting spot. Grade: C 36. Josh Wise , No. 30 Chevrolet, The Motorsports Group. Wise completed 416 laps, his fewest at Bristol since 2012, his rookie season. Grade: F 37. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . A so-so day at Bristol became a no-no day when Kenseth was collected in the Kurt Busch wreck. Since a four-race run of 1st, 13th, 3rd and 1st, Kenseth has now gone 42nd, 36th and 37th. That's Bristol, too. Grade: C 38. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Finally we come to the driver who miscalculated his move "by a few inches"and ignited the wreck on Lap 373 that collected 10 other cars. Busch later tweeted, "Tasted the checkers, pushed too hard too soon." No argument here. Busch had completed every lap run this season until Sunday. Grade: F 39. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch led a race-high 256 laps and owned the day until something broke in his car (his team will hear about that on Tuesday, he said). The No. 18 went into a soft spin, but it was met with a hard hit by Justin Allgaier that left Busch with his third DNF in his past four races at Bristol, all for crashes. Grade: C- 40. Justin Allgaier , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Subbing for Michael Annett (flu-like symptoms), Allgaier made his first Sprint Cup start of the season one day after finishing second in the XFINITY Series race at Bristol. Two days later he earned the wrath of Kyle Busch for plowing into him when Busch spun out on Lap 358. That's the high and lows of Bristol. Grade: F </p>
Teams look for Chase edge at Chicagoland test
With the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup only one month away, several Sprint Cup Series teams will try to get a leg up on the competition at Chicagoland Speedway this week by taking part in an organizational test for the series. Thirteen teams are tentatively scheduled to make the trek to the 1.5-mile track for the two-day test initially scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 23-24. Because of weather in the area, the test was adjusted to an all day session on Tuesday running into the night. Drivers expected to be on hand are: -- Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet) -- Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet) -- Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford)--- Trevor Bayne filled in so Stenhouse could attend Bryan Clauson's services -- Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota) -- Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford) -- Joey Logano ( Team Penske No. 22 Ford) -- David Ragan ( BK Racing No. 23 Ford) -- Ryan Newman ( Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet) -- Chris Buescher ( Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford) -- Brian Scott ( Richard Petty Motorsports No. 44 Ford) -- Michael Annett ( HScott Motorsports No. 46 Chevrolet) -- Jimmie Johnson ( Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet) -- Michael McDowell (Circle Sport - Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Chevrolet) Chicagoland is scheduled to host the opening Chase race, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400, on Sunday, Sept. 18 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) That the test will be held so close to the race date "is huge," said six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson . "To be on the track in close proximity when we go back and race, we obviously have a lot going on just as all teams do trying to gear up and get ready for the Chase," he said. Johnson has 14 career starts at the 1.5-mile track, but it is one of four -- along with Watkins Glen, Homestead and Kentucky -- where he has yet to win. "We have all these great machines that simulate on-track activity at the shop but until you take it to the race track and put it to use you have no idea if it's really paying off," he said. "So we're looking to validate quite a few things and hopefully we get sunshine and really true conditions to what we'll see when we come back for the race." The Chicago test is the fourth of five organizational tests for Sprint Cup Series teams this season. The remaining test is scheduled at Homestead Miami Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 18-19.
Harvick overcomes penalties for 10th 2015 runner-up finish
RELATED: Full results from Bristol " Updated standings BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Kevin Harvick became the first driver since 1972 to post double-digit runner-up finishes during the course of a season Saturday night, trailing race winner Joey Logano across the finish line in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion had to overcome two pit road penalties to put himself in contention for the win, but was unable to reel in the Team Penske driver in the closing laps of the 500-lap event. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took the disappointment of another near-win in stride. He's had worse finishes that weren't "near as cool as finishing second," he said. "I'm not frustrated at all because I've been on the other side of this fence, and you'd give everything in the world to finish second every week because it's not easy. This is a hard sport, and to go to all these different types of race tracks and see the success that the team has, I couldn't be prouder … because I know that at any moment you can rattle off two or three wins in a row at any type of race track, so it's fun." No driver had posted 10 or more runner-up finishes in a single season since Bobby Allison managed the feat in '72. Harvick became just the eighth driver to do so, joining Allison, David Pearson, Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett, Dick Rathmann, Joe Weatherly and Buck Baker. Pearson holds the overall mark, registering 18 second-place results in 1969. Harvick failed to lead a lap at BMS, but not for lack of trying. Starting seventh, the Sprint Cup Series champion had driven up to fourth by Lap 126 when Kyle Larson brought out the second caution of the night. But a violation for crewmen coming over the wall too soon dropped the No. 4 Chevrolet back to 22nd on the ensuing restart. He had raced his way back inside the top 10 by the halfway point of the race, and was in the top five at Lap 350. But another penalty, this one for speeding on pit road, dropped him back outside the top 10. With less than 70 laps remaining, Harvick was third on a final restart, taking second from Logano's teammate, Brad Keselowski , when the race resumed. "He (Logano) was just one step ahead of me in traffic," Harvick said of his attempts to track down Logano. "I couldn't get my car to rotate across the center like I needed it to, and every time I tried to force it, it would snap the back out." Logano called it "a very exciting last 20, 30 laps for sure." "I really thought we were going to be able to pull away because I thought we were really good in the long run, and then we didn't pull away," Logano said. "And I was like, ‘uh-oh.'" After the race, Rodney Childers, crew chief for Harvick, said he still didn't understand how his driver could get hit with a speeding penalty when driver Denny Hamlin wasn't cited for excessive speed. "He (Hamlin) was pushing us around the corner," Childers said. "(Kevin) said his speed went up like 300 RPM when he was pushing him. He was like, ‘Oh God, this is going to be close.' And we were speeding." Otherwise, Childers said, it was another good night for the defending champions. "The team overcame a lot of adversity this weekend, which is a plus getting ready for the Chase," he said. "We had a clutch problem this morning and had to change the master cylinder, the clutch … all kinds of stuff. Then to go through what we went through in the race and fight back. "The biggest thing is just Kevin drove his butt off to get back up there and everybody did a good job overcoming it." Runner-up finishes in a season Number Driver Year 18 David Pearson 1969 15 Bobby Allison 1970 14 Richard Petty 1964 13 Ned Jarrett 1965 12 Bobby Allison 1972 12 David Pearson 1968 12 Joe Weatherly 1962 12 Dick Rathmann 1953 10 Kevin Harvick 2015 10 Buck Baker 1958
Sprint Most Popular Driver voting update
RELATED: Cast your vote today Less than one week remains before voting ends in the annual NMPA Most Popular Driver award, which means it's crucial for NASCAR fans to vote. And they've answered the call recently. Last week saw a 14.9 percent increase in total number of votes cast from the previous week. That number speaks to how deep the passion runs for NASCAR fans -- and also how passionate fans remain digitally savvy. Voting has never been easier, either at www.mostpopulardriver.com or the NASCAR Mobile App. Are you doing your part for your favorite driver? Remember, the NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver award is the only major NASCAR award determined solely by fan vote. Voting ends Nov. 22 at 11:59 p.m. ET, so make sure your voice is heard. Voting is limited to one vote per person per email address per day. The winner of this year's award will be announced during the NBCSN broadcast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards on Dec. 4 in Las Vegas. A $10,000 donation will be made to the winning driver's charity of choice. And just in case you need any extra motivation … Sprint has revealed the top 10 vote-getters thus far. Where is your favorite driver? The list below is in alphabetical order. Kyle Busch Dale Earnhardt Jr . Carl Edwards Jeff Gordon Kevin Harvick Jimmie Johnson Kasey Kahne Matt Kenseth Danica Patrick Tony Stewart Previous winners of the NMPA Sprint Most Popular Driver Award: Year – Recipient 2014 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2013 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2012 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2011 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2010 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2009 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2008 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2007 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2006 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2005 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2004 – Dale Earnhardt Jr . 2003 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 2002 – Bill Elliott 2001 – Dale Earnhardt 2000 – Bill Elliott 1999 – Bill Elliott 1998 – Bill Elliott 1997 – Bill Elliott 1996 – Bill Elliott 1995 – Bill Elliott 1994 – Bill Elliott 1993 – Bill Elliott 1992 – Bill Elliott 1991 – Bill Elliott 1990 – Darrell Waltrip 1989 – Darrell Waltrip 1988 – Bill Elliott 1987 – Bill Elliott 1986 – Bill Elliott 1985 – Bill Elliott 1984 – Bill Elliott 1983 – Bobby Allison 1982 – Bobby Allison 1981 – Bobby Allison 1980 – David Pearson 1979 – David Pearson 1978 – Richard Petty 1977 – Richard Petty 1976 – Richard Petty 1975 – Richard Petty 1974 – Richard Petty 1973 – Bobby Allison 1972 – Bobby Allison 1971 – Bobby Allison 1970 – Richard Petty 1969 – Bobby Isaac 1968 – Richard Petty 1967 – Cale Yarborough 1966 – Darel Dieringer 1965 – Fred Lorenzen 1964 – Richard Petty 1963 – Fred Lorenzen 1962 – Richard Petty 1961 – Joe Weatherly 1960 – Rex White 1959 – Jack Smith 1958 – Glen Wood 1957 – Fireball Roberts 1956 – Curtis Turner 1955 – Tim Flock 1954 – Lee Petty 1953 – Lee Petty
Joe Gibbs Racing changes pit crew coach
Joe Gibbs Racing changed its pit crew coach Wednesday, transitioning longtime coach Mike Lepp to the role of senior athletic adviser and placing Matt Osborn in charge of pit crew operations. Lepp joined JGR at the beginning of 2007, and over the past few years, the JGR pit crews have been the ones to beat. Lepp has amassed more than 113 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series, combined, as well as other awards. He was part of a Sprint Cup championship with the No. 18 team of Kyle Busch last year and was involved in winning multiple XFINITY Series titles. Lepp has played a major role in bringing the JGR teams to the forefront of the pitting world and has two pit crew championships to his credit, with back-to-back wins in 2010 and 2011 with the No. 11 crew of Denny Hamlin . Over the last nine years, the Nos. 11 and 18 crews have been dominant. One of Lepp's most recent accomplishments was assembling the No. 19 crew of Carl Edwards . That pit crew has been a top-three unit since it started with JGR. With his new job, Lepp will assume an increased role in marketing and public relations duties, including public speaking events and actively searching for sponsorship opportunities. "This is the right time for me to make a change and I'm excited about my new role in the organization," Lepp said in a team release. "I'm proud of what we've accomplished on pit road and I know Matt will continue to do a great job going forward." For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com .
Rex White: Small stature, giant legend
Looking back at the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee's career MORE: NASCAR Hall of Fame profile of Rex White " NASCAR Hall of Fame by class (Note: This release is part of a series in advance of the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Jan. 30, broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White are the five 2015 inductees.) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.– Over the years, NASCAR premier series champions have come in all shapes and sizes – tall, short, muscular and lean. The single constant? It’s impossible to judge a book by its cover. Based upon first impressions, Rex White – at 5 feet 4 inches, weighing just 135 pounds and with his right leg withered by childhood polio – might have seemed the unlikeliest championship contender of all. White, however, was tough as nails fearing neither competitor nor track conditions. He won the 1960 premier series title and posted 28 victories over five seasons, finishing among the top five in nearly half of his 233 starts. "He looked more like a jockey than a race car driver," fellow competitor Buddy Baker told the Gaston Gazette, "but he lived large once they started the race. On short tracks, he was very aggressive. He didn't mind going in the turn with (NASCAR Hall of Famer and three-time premier series champion) Lee Petty and saying, 'I'm inside and if you come down we’re not going to agree on stuff.' "He raced hard." NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, the 1983 premier series champion, said, "I admired Rex as a race driver because he was a little guy. I started out small. Seeing him winning encouraged me to chase my dream." What might have been a handicap to many only served as motivation to White, born Aug. 17, 1929 in Taylorsville, N.C. "Most of the lessons I have learned (from childhood illness) have stayed with me all my life," said White in his autobiography "Gold Thunder," written with Dr. Anne B. Jones. "The biggest one was how to conquer fear." White learned to drive at age six, driving a neighbor's truck in surrounding fields. Two years later he was working on his family's Ford Model T. “I was unaware the car on which I labored represented hope to people around me (and) frustration to those trying to stop illegal moonshine," said White. "I saw automobiles as transportation, not the symbol of an upcoming billion-dollar sport." White dropped out of school, moving to the Washington D.C., area where he found employment as a cook and, after marriage, a service station job. A poster advertising stock car races took White to Lanham (Maryland) Speedway where he caught on as an unpaid crew member for 1952 NASCAR Modified champion Frankie Schneider. A year later, White returned to the track with a 1937 Ford purchased for $600 lettered "X." He won his heat race, the semi-main and the feature. "I'd never won a trophy at anything," said White. White made his premier series debut in 1956 on Daytona's beach/road course. In 1958, he teamed with crew chief Louis Clements in an "off the books" program by GM's Chevrolet Division. They won twice in 1958 and five times the following year. The 1959 season also saw the debut of White's iconic No. 4 gold and white Chevrolet. The 1960 season was the first in which White ran a full schedule, going to the post only after he and Clement built a car for a competitor, the sale of which netted $2,000 for their own Chevrolet. White won six times finishing 35 of 40 races among the top 10. White's ninth-place finish at Birmingham, Alabama on Aug. 3 was his worst performance in the year's final 15 races. The championship was a runaway, White beating NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty by nearly 4,000 points. "The thing about Rex is he thinks," said Clements in a 1960 interview with Sports Illustrated. "When he's out on the track, he's planning and figuring out which cars he has to race to stay ahead." Car owner and engine builder Smokey Yunick, quoted in the same article, said, "Rex is not a cautious driver but he know when to use caution." White didn't disagree. "I couldn't run quite as fast as some of those other guys," he said. "So long as I was smart and kept running; if any of those other guys had trouble, I had a chance." White nearly defended his title in 1961 winning seven times but finished second to NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett. He added two more top-10 championship finishes before retiring at the conclusion of the 1964 season. Between 1959 and the 1963 seasons, White won more races than any other driver. He won 36 premier series poles – at least one in eight consecutive seasons – and finished second in NASCAR's Short Track late model championship in 1959. In retirement, White has owned an automobile dealership and for 25 years a trucking company, both in the Atlanta area where at age 85 he continues to reside. Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, White holds membership in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.
Groseclose's passion where rubber meets the road
Meet @nascartireguy and learn how he landed a job in the sport he loves FOLLOW: @nascartireguy on Twitter CONCORD, N.C. -- David Groseclose carefully takes the 27-year-old photograph out of its frame for closer examination, making it easier to marvel at its full-circle nature. Back then, a 10-year-old David and his older brother, Jeff -- both wearing Scouts uniforms -- sidled up to an aspiring rookie driver named Brett Bodine to pose for a photograph at the boys' home track, Bristol Motor Speedway. When their father took that snapshot in 1988, none of the parties could have imagined that the younger Groseclose would one day report to Bodine. That day came in January 2014, when Groseclose, now 37, showed up for work at the NASCAR Research & Development Center as the sanctioning body's lead tire engineer. For Groseclose -- who appropriately tweets from the handle @nascartireguy -- the position was the realization of a childhood dream, which took root from years of attending races at the Bristol track, just 10 minutes from his hometown of Blountville, Tennessee. When Groseclose stumbled upon the job listing, the enthusiasm was palpable. "Tire engineer? What could be better?" he recalled telling his wife, Susan. "She said, 'if you don't apply for that job, I'm going to divorce you.' " It never came to that, Groseclose laughed. After an initial callback, Groseclose was on the phone with Bodine, leading to an interview with both him and Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR's senior vice president of innovation and racing development. RELATED: Go inside the NASCAR R&D Center "David was exactly what we wanted; he had a passion for the sport," Bodine said last weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "As you know, to survive the work schedule and the workload of this sport, you've got to have a passion for it. You can't treat this like a 9-to-5 job. During the interview process, I realized that. That's what really made myself and Gene Stefanyshyn feel really good about hiring David." Plenty of Groseclose's passion stems from his long-running association with NASCAR as a fan, attending his first Bristol race at age 5 and -- as best as he can recall -- falling asleep by the halfway point, overwhelmed by the sights and sounds. He'll be back Wednesday, overseeing an open test for Sprint Cup teams on the .533-mile track but also taking time to savor the homecoming in the Tennessee hills. MORE: Teams get ready for Bristol test In a year and a half on the job, Groseclose's responsibilities have included scheduling and supervising all Goodyear tire tests, analyzing data and driver feedback to help fellow engineers make informed choices for selecting the right compound for a given track. Groseclose said he meets with Goodyear officials on a weekly basis, but that open communication with NASCAR's tire partner is a daily process. He is also responsible for all sections of the NASCAR Rule Book regarding wheels and tires. Groseclose's diverse background includes seven years in the U.S. Navy, studies in the field of nuclear power and time spent on the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, but his current duties are a natural extension of his seven-year stint with Bridgestone, where he served as the lead development coordinator and engineer for street tires. "Actually a lot of it transfers. Even though it's a racing tire, the construction, the basics are the same," Groseclose said. "Every tire's got a bead, every tire's got body-ply, every tire's got some type of belt. Now, passenger tires are steel belts and here they're not. The tread's a lot thicker on passenger tires because they've got to last a lot longer, but you can't have that thick of a tread on a racing tire because it heats up too much. If it gets too hot, it'll start coming apart. "A lot of it's the same, but parts of it are different because of the extreme conditions that racing tires have to go through." In addition to his work experience, Groseclose continues to draw upon his upbringing as a NASCAR enthusiast in the R&D setting, with Stefanyshyn often asking him to put on his "fan hat" in discussions about improving competition. That role goes even further back; Groseclose's actual fan hat from his youth was one loaded with souvenir pins, proudly displaying his status as a card-carrying member of the Harry Gant Fan Club. Groseclose's father attended Bristol's second-ever race in its inaugural season with his father, watching Joe Weatherly edge Rex White in a battle of NASCAR Hall of Famers in the 1961 Southeastern 500. His parents remain season-ticket holders. Now Groseclose shares his love of the sport with the next generation, his three young boys -- ages 8, 5 and 3, with a fourth child on the way, due in December. The only difference is that now it's not just a pastime for Groseclose, it's part of his life's work. "I loved the job I had before. I worked with really good people and it was a great job," Groseclose said. "I had no inclination of changing jobs, but when your dream job comes up, you've got to do something, right?" FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule